Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe recently announced that the ninth annual Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade will take place on March 6-7 at the Richmond Marriott Hotel. 

Alan Grant, dean of the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said the partnership between the Virginia Tech Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, and the Port of Virginia over the past nine years has created a forum that has benefited the commonwealth’s number one economy — agriculture and forestry products.

“Because of the place that trade occupies on the national policy agenda at this time, the importance, content, and timing of the upcoming conference could not be better,” Grant said.

Jason Grant, associate professor and director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Agricultural Trade, said that with national policy attention being given to NAFTA and the United States’ withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the conference will give producers and agribusinesses from around the state a chance to learn about how their products may be affected.

Virginia agricultural products are exported around the world. With nearly $3.2 billion in agriculture and forestry exports, Virginia is the second largest exporter of such products on the east coast. Trade policy impacts products that include turkeys exported to Mexico, chickens sent to China, and pork and soybeans sold to Japan. 

“The policies and politics affecting these and all other Virginia agricultural and forestry products are included in the agenda,” Jason Grant said.

The conference will provide a forum for attendees to ask questions and gain a better understanding of how the outcome of the daily headlines may affect their business.

This year’s conference will include presentations related to key trade topics including the importance of free trade agreements, current U.S. agriculture and trade priorities, effects of globalization on major U.S. firms, and opportunities and challenges for U.S. forest product exports. Individual speakers include representatives from The Russell Group, American Farm Bureau, Federal Bureau of Investigation, John Deere, North American Meat Institute, Smithfield Foods, and North American Timber Service.  Representatives from VDACS’ global export promotion network will also attend.

This conference is just one way Virginia Tech partners with policy makers, producers, and industry leaders to enhance Virginia agriculture and forestry. The university plays a major role in augmenting Virginia’s top industry by producing and disseminating relevant research at its Blacksburg campus and throughout the state at various Agricultural Research and Extension Centers and through Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Virginia Tech’s Center for Agricultural Trade is sponsoring 25 undergraduates to attend the conference as a part of the college’s mission to provide experiential learning opportunities for students. The conference allows students to connect and share ideas with a diverse array of individuals invested in Virginia’s top industry.

Individuals, groups, and companies interested in participating in the conference may register online at or call Event Coordinator Christie Young at 804-516-2396.


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